US 5923383 A Abstract In an image enhancement method is disclosed using a histogram equalization for an input image expressed in a predetermined number of gray levels. While calculating the probability density function of the gray levels of the input image, for use in a histogram equalization, the number of occurrences of each gray level are constrained not to exceed a predetermined value. Then a histogram equalization is performed on the input image based on the calculated probability density (or distribution) function. As a result, the mean brightness of the input image does not change significantly by the histogram equalization. Additionally, noise is prevented from being greatly amplified.
Claims(7) 1. A histogram equalization method for image enhancement by equalizing an input image expressed in a predetermined number of gray levels, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) calculating a probability density function of gray levels of the input image, wherein a number of occurrences of each gray level in the probability density function is constrained to be within a predetermined value; and (b) performing a histogram equalization on the input image based on the probability density function of gray levels calculated in said step (a). 2. The histogram equalization method as claimed in claim 1, wherein said step (a) comprises the steps of:
(a1) comparing a number of occurrences of a gray level of an input sample in the input image with the predetermined value; (a2) including the input sample in a sample set if the number of occurrences of the gray level of the input sample is less than or equal to the predetermined value and excluding the input sample from the sample set if the number of occurrences of the gray level of the input sample is greater than the predetermined value; and (a3) calculating the probability density function by use of the input samples in the sample set. 3. The histogram equalization method as claimed in claim 2, wherein said step (b) comprises the steps of:
(b1) calculating a cumulative distribution function based on the probability density function calculated in said step (a3); and (b2) performing the histogram equalization on the input image based on the cumulative distribution function calculated in said step (b1). 4. An image enhancement method for use in a histogram equalization of an input image, the input image being expressed in a predetermined number of gray levels, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) initializing a number of total samples in the input image and a number of occurrences of each gray level; (b) determining whether the number of occurrences of a particular one of the gray levels, which corresponding to a gray level of an input sample in the input image, is less than or equal to a predetermined value; (c) incrementing both the number of total samples and the number of occurrences of said particular one of the gray levels, if the number of occurrences of that gray level is less than or equal to the predetermined value in said step (b); and (d) determining whether the input image sample is a last one to calculate a probability density function of gray levels of the input image if the input image sample is the last one. 5. The image enhancement method as claimed in claim 4, further comprising the step of (e) excluding the input sample from calculating of the probability density function if the number of occurrences of said particular one of the gray levels, which corresponding to the gray level of the input sample in the input image, is greater than the predetermined value.
6. The image enhancement method as claimed in claim 4, further comprising the step of (f) repeating steps (b) through (d) if the input image sample is not the last one.
7. The histogram equalization method as claimed in claim 3, wherein the histogram equalization performed in said step (b2) is carried out according to a transform function.
Description 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to an image enhancement method. More particularly, it relates to an image enhancement method using a histogram equalization. This application for an image enhancement method using histogram equalization is based on Korean Patent Application no. 96-24412 which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes. 2. Description of the Related Arts In general, the distribution of gray levels in a given input image is referred to as a histogram. The histogram of gray levels provides an overall description of the appearance of the input image. Proper adjustment of gray levels for a given image can enhance the appearance or contrast of the image. Among the many methods for contrast enhancement, the most widely known one is the histogram equalization, in which the contrast of a given image is enhanced according to the sample distribution thereof. The method is disclosed in documents: 1! J. S. Lim, "Two-dimensional Signal and Image Processing," Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1990, and 2! R. C. Gonzalez and P. Wints, "Digital Image Processing," Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1977. Also, the useful applications of the histogram equalization method for medical image processing and radar image processing are disclosed in documents: 3! J. Zimmerman, S. Pizer, E. Staab, E. Perry, W. McCartney and B. Brenton, "Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Adaptive Histogram Equalization for Contrast Enhancement," IEEE Transaction on Medical Imaging, pp. 304-312, December. 1988, and 4! Y. Li, W. Wang and D. Y. Yu, "Application of Adaptive Histogram Equalization to X-ray Chest Image," Proc. of the SPIE, pp. 513-514, vol. 2321, 1994. In general, since histogram equalization causes the dynamic range of an image to be stretched, the density distribution of the resultant image is made more flat and the contrast of the image is enhanced as a consequence. However, such a widely-known feature of the histogram equalization becomes a defect in some practical cases. In particular, the mean brightness of the image may change significantly as a result of the equalization. Furthermore, noise in the image is equalized along with the image signal. This may cause the noise to be greatly amplified, which deteriorates the quality of the image. Such problems typically occur when the input samples in the image are concentrated in a few gray levels. It is an object of the present invention to provide an image enhancement method using a histogram equalization, by which the mean brightness of an image does not change significantly. In order to achieve the above object, there is provided an image enhancement method using a histogram equalization for an input image expressed in a predetermined number of gray levels, comprising the steps of (a) calculating a distribution of gray levels of the input image while constraining a number of occurrences of each gray level to be within a predetermined value; and (b) performing a histogram equalization on the input image based on the calculated distribution of gray levels obtained in the step (a). The above object and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent by describing in detail a preferred embodiment thereof with reference to the attached drawings in which: FIG. 1 is a flowchart illustrating a conventional method of calculating the probability density function of an image; and FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating a method of calculating the probability density function for use in the histogram equalization method of the present invention. Prior to the description of an image enhancement method using a histogram equalization according to the present invention, a typical histogram equalization will be explained briefly to enhance understanding of the present invention. A given discrete image {X} is composed of L discrete gray levels {X A probability density function (PDF) is defined as follows: ##EQU1## where 0≦p(X A cumulative density function (CDF) is defined as follows: ##EQU2## where C(X Based on the CDF, an output Y of the histogram equalization is given by the following equation (3).
Y=C(X One step for applying a histogram equalization is to calculate the PDF of a given image. A conventional method of calculating the PDF for applying to the histogram equalization is depicted in FIG. 1. In FIG. 1, the number of total samples n and the number of occurrences of samples having the gray level X To understand the drawback of the conventional histogram equalization, it is assumed that an input image is composed of three gray levels X Then, the PDF values for each gray levels are as follows: p(X p(X p(X Also, the three gray levels are mapped into levels of 5,247 and 255, respectively, by the histogram equalization according to the equations (2) and (3). The mean brightness of the image so equalized is given as follows, regardless of magnitudes of the gray levels X
(0.02×5)+(0.97×247)+(0.01×255)=242 The mean brightness of the equalized image may differ significantly from the mean brightness of the input image. For example, let's assume that X As described above, one of the most significant problems of the conventional histogram equalization is that the mean brightness between input and output signals differs significantly from each other depending on the PDF. Furthermore, such a problem is conspicuously prominent when the samples in the input image are concentrated in a group of a few gray levels. Thus, in the present invention, in cases where the samples in the input image are concentrated in a few gray levels, the number of samples in each gray level is maintained below a predetermined number when the PDF is calculated. FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating a method of calculating the PDF for applying to the histogram equalization according to the present invention. First, in FIG. 2, the number of total samples n and the number of occurrences of samples having the gray level X Then, an input sample X If it is determined in step S23 that the number of occurrences, n However, if it is determined in step S23 that the number of occurrences, n After the step 24, a determination is made as to whether the last sample of the given image is received or not (step S25). If the input sample is not the last one, steps S22 through S25 are repeatedly carried out. Otherwise, if the input sample is the last one, the PDF p(X After the PDF has been calculated, a CDF is calculated based on the PDF. Then, a histogram equalization is carried out for the input image according to a transform function. The transform function is preferably described by the equation (3), but another suitable equation may be used. Any of the number of known transform functions, as well as ones which will be suggested in the future, may be employed in the present invention. As described above, the image enhancement method using a histogram equalization according to the present invention calculates the PDF considering the concentration of gray levels in the input image. Therefore, the mean brightness of an image does not change significantly by the histogram equalization. Also, the noise is prevented from being amplified greatly. Although the present invention has been described in terms of a preferred embodiment, it will be appreciated that various changes and modifications may be made to the described embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the claimed invention. Patent Citations
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